THE JOURNEY CONTINUES: JULY 11, 2020

Tomorrow will be our Celebrate Recovery meeting day to address some important items as we look into the near future for it and for the restart of restoration classes. I think I’m ready now to lead this discussion and to organize the messages of it into our prayer list. I keep wishing I could tap on the shoulder each person who I’d want present. This is what I surrender to God for I know He is the very One who knows best who He wants present. I need to let His Holy Spirit do His Work of tapping on the shoulder and I stay on my knees in prayer about it. So, that’s what I’m doing today and tomorrow morning.

This present state we are in has put a halt to so much. What I’m awake to now is that God never stops His Kingdom Work just because man is experiencing something overwhelming to him. It has taken several weeks for me to fully awaken to this. If someone would have asked me before the pandemic hit, I wouldn’t have hesitated at all saying that nothing can stand in the way of God’s Kingdom Work. However, for myself, now that I’ve lived through these past few months, I can honestly say, I’ve been the one stymied, not God. Tomorrow’s meeting will allow us to begin hearing God’s Voice and recording what He wants done. This I look forward to with much anticipation!

To God be all GLORY!

THE JOURNEY CONTINUES: JULY 10, 2020

As I sit down to write this blog entry I am weighed down with a statement made to me last night at Celebrate Recovery. A gentleman was there with his wife. They were both newcomers. We had a shortage of leaders so Kathy and I thought it best to simply invite them to take part in the small groups as we were needed for leading the small groups. We could take them through a 101 class the following week. I taught the lesson on Relapse which is lesson 21 of 25. As I finished and we were ready to go into small group I approached him and asked if he would be ok just coming to the small group? His response took me back. He said he was just going to leave and go home. This type of recovery wasn’t for him. The talk about God and all was not for him. He went on to say that he was raised in a series of foster homes and he learned that God was very different than “we” talked about. I did let him know that in September we would be starting again at the beginning lessons where connecting with the God he heard about begins. At this beginning is where we learn that God does care for us in spite of what has happened to us in life by man or by ourselves.

There are a number of things I wish I had mentioned last night–primarily the fact that I had so many of my own doubts about the God I adore today. I realize this man will not be left alone by The Holy Spirit and I do pray he will risk returning. God has a love for him he surely needs to find and a recovery awaiting right with that love.

THE JOURNEY CONTINUES: JULY 9, 2020

The confusion I talked about yesterday as I prepare mentally for Sunday’s meeting was given spiritual attention. I felt as though we needed to have a solid plan ready to enact come mid September for our restoration ministry and for Celebrate Recovery. However, what developed during the day was to focus the meeting on people’s hopes and dreams for Celebrate Recovery and the restoration ministry as we prepare to step into a new year come September. As we record these hopes/dreams we can then see clearly what the obstacles are which restrict it. These then become the concrete items we pray about leaving them for God to deal with knowing they are out of our hands.

It is here that I have to confess even more my own flesh. I have always been one to turn things over to God verbally. But in reality, I want to take care of these details myself and inspire others to do the same with their part. Leaving things for God to do has seemed like a cop out. As I write this today I recognize that I’ve never had the solid belief that God’s Strength would address such detail as these hitting our ministry. I let it go because I can’t do anything with it–so, God, You do something if You want it to happen. (Boy, do I see my flesh as I write this).

God is helping me to see my own disbelief this morning and the weakness of relationship it portrays. The growing intimacy I am finding in God, Jesus and The Holy Spirit is now wanting to address my disbelief and turn it into BELIEF. So, when we meet Sunday, we will have a solid prayer list developed of hopes and dreams which we will commit to praying. This time (for me at least) the prayers will be sincere believing the God of the universe is hearing them and cares deeply about them. The outcome, whatever it will be, will be of God and not of man.

THE JOURNEY CONTINUES: JULY 8, 2020

Today’s journey started with an early rising. It is one of the mornings when you awaken to know there is not going to be any going back to sleep so lets get up and check out why. There is a lot on my mind having to do with our restoration ministries. These require intimate time and closeness. The present pandemic keeps us distant and isolated. Yes, we can virtually meet, but that has its own handicaps. Now is the time to get organized for the start of new classes and Celebrate Recovery’s kickoff. So, as I look at our planning for these in the past, there has always been a great plan emerging. Today, as I look at these, I only see confusion, maybe’s , what if’s…. I am hosting our Celebrate Recovery monthly meeting this Sunday at our home where we are to plan all of this out. I feel like all I can do is host a meeting and guide a conversation with about a dozen people.

I just typed this message and as I did I had a moment of seeing in my mind Peter and John conversing when Jesus had ascended into heaven leaving them with the charge to go unto the ends of the earth spreading the Good News. I’ll bet they were awfully confused wondering about a plan to do this when their world’s state was even more divided than our present one. (I also just started reading I Peter this morning where he is writing to never give up hope. He says to seek the Spirit’s leadership in your life and He will give the Light.

I’ve never written this blog where the message is coming to me while I’m writing it. I always have a message to write. Today, I had confusion and in writing this, I sense a plan forming. It is ok to have a meeting addressing the confusion of the present. In so doing, we will seek The Holy Spirit’s presence and to hear His message for us. I’m good with that!

THE JOURNEY CONTINUES: JULY 7, 2020

Today is my youngest daughter’s birthday. It was 34 years ago that she was born and tomorrow it will be 34 years since we brought her home from the hospital. Because we were adopting our daughter we couldn’t be at the hospital for the birth. However, after getting the call that she was born, our neighbor friend went to the hospital and saw her through the window of the nursery. She gave us a report on our new child! God opened the door for us to adopt her and I continue to thank Him for this honor.

I wrapped up the book of James this morning in my bible reading. Chapter 5 has excellent wisdom for living each day. Reading it outlines a very simple process of living for Jesus if we were a puppet and had no choices of our own to make. However, living for Jesus each and every day and turning ourselves around when temptation hits is truly another story. The wisdom is there in James 5:16–confess one to another and the outcome is that we will be healed.

Admitting we have sinned is one thing. Confessing it is another. Admitting is telling, confessing includes admitting along with a plan to step out of the sin. This is what Jesus is asking me to do and each one of us to do. Finding a trustworthy person who doesn’t judge but knows how to support is the answer. In Celebrate Recovery we call this an accountability partner or our sponsor. This person is a real friend! I’m very grateful to have a couple of them in my life. If this is something you need, pray that The Holy Spirit will put a person in your path. Jesus wants each of us to be free.

THE JOURNEY CONTINUES: JULY 6, 2020

Yesterday was a powerful day starting with a sermon from our pastor regarding the present state of our nation and how our behaviors as a nation misalign with the bible and God’s intent for man. It was a tough sermon to deliver, but so worth hearing on each one’s part.

I spent much of the remainder of the day helping a couple of widow friends. The one lost her husband about 6 weeks ago and had a rose bush needing planted which had been given to her at her husband’s passing. As I got there I first noticed her flower bed truly needed weeding so I got both done. As I left there I went to another widow’s home to get pictures for a video being put together. A lady who use to work for me is reaching the end of her life due to cancer and her family is putting together a video of reflection for her. She had worked many years for me but I didn’t have pictures–only stories. My past secretary however, had several so I got them from her and now the video is being made complete. God is so good and it is gratifying to have a little part in what He does.

Today I get to go to one of the schools I work with and spend a few hours with the gentleman who is the new principal. He really is new too, but he is eager to learn. My first secretary that I met with yesterday was reminding me of my first day. I had come to the school, sat down at her desk and asked, “What does a principal do on their first day?” She took the lead in getting me focused and away we went. Now, 41 years later, I want to assist this new one with the same kindness and wisdom as I was given.

THE JOURNEY CONTINUES: JULY 5, 2020

When I started college I had a guy in the dorm tell me to act my age–I was 18. I told him this is how I act so it must be how an 18 year old acts. A few days later he was the one acting crazy and I reminded him to act his age. This is just one little example of man seeing man through his own eyes.

In James chapters 2 & 3, there is an abundance of wisdom given for living a mature, christian life. A large portion is devoted to our tongue and controlling it. Our tongue can be a blessing or a curse in a matter of just a few words in either direction. I know that our tongue is largely tied to our human emotions. I hear James telling me that my tongue can be tied to The Holy Spirit’s leading in my life. I can “stay it” or I can “release it” when I sense the Spirit’s nudging.

I never wanted to be cruel with my words like I found my dad to be–especially when he was angry or when I had done something which seemed to shame him. However, knowing what I don’t want to do doesn’t necessarily prepare me for what to do. There was a lot about living a mature, healthy life which had to be learned through trial and error. James has so much to say in his writings giving aid to one like me. If this is a need for you too, take a moment to let this book speak to you. It only takes a few minutes to read it, but the lessons within it will take a lifetime.

THE JOURNEY CONTINUES: JULY 4, 2020

CELEBRATE FREEDOM! Today we celebrate our country’s freedom which started for us in so many arenas: religious freedom, Britain’s rule, taxation, and so much more. In our flesh and spirit it seemed our original leaders understood the importance of religious freedom and separating it from the government’s rule. However, they also knew that the rules used by the government needed to have God’s design built into them. Today we have drifted so far away from God, it seems our leaders, for the most part, see anything about God’s inclusion as “religious”. I pray for this to be turned around somehow.

As I read my scripture reading this morning I started the small but mighty book of James. I’ve always loved this book because it is written by one of Jesus’ earthly brothers. James didn’t always see his big brother as the true Son of God. Or, if he did, he didn’t respect it as he does when he wrote this book. He addresses so many daily living issues: temptation, forgiveness, faith with action and more. I love what he says about action without faith. I had this all confused for much of my life. I wanted to do “good” to earn my status with Jesus–so He’d love me and find we worthy of cleansing. I was hanging onto the sins done to me not knowing how to let them go and allowing the shame of the sin to be its own control. If I was good at anything I would try and use my strengths to earn this value.

James makes it clear that works done without faith point man to man. Only works done in faith look like God and help others see and find God. This has always been my intent, but it is so wonderful to now be able to live life this way. Life’s journey today does have great enjoyment, but any good I do I sure want it done out of obedience and faith rather than out of the old attempts of my past. I want people to see and find God from actions done today. To God be all Glory!

THE JOURNEY CONTINUES: JULY 3, 2020

I’ve begun a bible study with someone on Thursday mornings so we met for the second time yesterday going through the introduction of the book we decided on along with its first chapter. The author’s purpose in the book is to teach us to believe in the authority of Jesus Christ and the power behind this authority. The author weaves his own struggle to believe into his writing and how God over time taught him to not just read His Word–but to believe it and put it into the practice of everyday living.

As we began yesterday the person I’m meeting with stated he’s nervous about getting excited because of what God might want him to do with his story. His confession brought back many, many pleas I’ve had throughout much of my own life. I was able to tell him that I spent 5 years in Celebrate Recovery before I finally opened up to the truth of my entire story. It was one thing to admit I’d been sexually abused by a gay brother for 12+ years. It was another thing to finally admit that this abuse had led to my own gay thoughts and desires. Confessing our entire story is never easy. I was also able to tell him that no matter what our story contains, God not only will prepare us for our “telling moment”, but He also prepares anyone who is to hear it. Never in my giving of my story have I found judgement in its telling. Instead, it has brought me so much closer to so many people who finally feel they can admit something they’ve been holding within waiting for a safe moment to do their own confessing.

God is such an Amazing God. For so long I feared His punishment and the exposure to shame. Instead, I’ve only found love, support, GRACE and FREEDOM. These gifts He gives us are for each of us as we step into our commitment with God.

THE JOURNEY CONTINUES: JULY 2, 2020

Hebrews is wrapping up soon and today’s message in chapter 12 is the challenge to live life to the fullest striving to run this race with our eyes solely on the prize at the end–life with Jesus Christ! I’ve only run a few races in my life. I was told I was fast and could do well, but none of us boys were allowed to participate in sports. The cows had to be milked morning and night and this was first on the priority list.

Life’s race we are in today is different than the one on the track at high school. This race has the opportunity for each one of us to win the ultimate prize–Heaven with our Lord and Savior. The author of Hebrews tells us to keep our eyes focused only on the goal–the prize at the end. It is easier said than done, but saying it is the start. The beauty of living out the race is that we get a fresh start each and every day. Even at this ripening age of mine I find that the race is not different. Yes, what the world around me is doing may be different than 50 years ago, but my purpose in the world is not different. God wants me focused on Him. Starting my day with Him and listening well to His Spirit within is my intent–trusting and obeying this voice is my obedience. Each day I get to choose this route for the journey. I never want to question or stray from it. God’s Light is the only Light I want to follow!